Video case studies

Watch the videos below showing how schools in NSW have integrated a Healthy School Canteen into their local setting with approaches that meet the needs of their school community.

East Hills – collaborating for Healthy School Canteens

These three East Hills schools collaborated to provide healthy choices for everyone.

Michelle Maingard – Parent across the schools

Having the kids being able to choose these healthy options in school is really important, we need to set that as an example too, and I think from this school, seeing the benefits of it, I think it should be in all schools. Definitely all schools should have it.

Karen Savins – Principal East Hills Boys High School

There was a buzz from day one from the kids, they were really keen for it. It was just listening to them mainly and listening to the parents, what they wanted. And it was a no brainer!

Andrew Kontellis – Deputy Principal East Hills Boys High School

So just over a chat one day we decided ‘why don’t we do a joint canteen’ tender. For East Hills Public School which is a smaller school in numbers, they can’t get a company to put in a tender [be]cause they’re too small.

So the three of us sat down one day ‘why don’t we go in, all three together and do a joint canteen tender process’, one company service all three canteens.

Jennifer Hardwick – Principal East Hills Girls Technical High School

Not only did we want to take the opportunity to do the tender together, we wanted to take the opportunity to make sure that the canteens we were attracting provided us with options that our family, our girls and the wider community would want.

Michelle Maingard – Parent across the schools

I was really pleased with the new Healthy School program coming into place, I said ‘it’s peace of mind for the children and ourselves as well - knowing that your children have the option to choose all the healthy foods coming into school.

Having the link between the schools and the home life with eating healthily makes it a lot easier too, it just promotes it in all areas.

Shailesh Sharma – Parent East Hills Girls Technical High School

Healthy food gives them a good thinking, a good background of starting to think about food and in the school at least when they are with their friends, it's more influence and they tend to take on those kind of healthy foods.

Val – Canteen Manager East Hills Boys High School

The healthy canteen strategy started and we did some research and found that all schools have to comply by the end of next year.

So we decided that once we started up at this school that we would just start off the menu with the whole new healthy canteen strategy.

When we first came to the canteen, they didn't have a lot of variety of foods. It was very minimal, very basic. The kids had to get used to not having fried foods in the canteen.

Ahmad Hussein – Student East Hills Boys High School

My first thought when I found out the school was changing to a healthier canteen, I was excited because some of the food in the previous canteen, a lot of it was fried or unhealthy.

Cathryne Boviatsis – Student East Hills Girls Technical High School

Yeah, I love food so I couldn't wait to try out the new menu. It was really nice to know that we were going to have healthy options. So it was a nice change and I was really excited.

Jennifer Hardwick – Principal East Hills Girls Technical High School

Through PDHPE, there's a lot of focus on healthy mind, healthy body. It helps with the sustainability in the science that they do. And they're doing a lot of things about recycling. It compliments our science curriculum, our PDH curriculum and our TAS curriculum.

Muhammad Awan – Student East Hills Boys High School

The canteen helps me a lot about making healthy choices, because I'm used to eating healthy stuff ever since this new canteen came in.

Donna Casey – Principal East Hills Public School

I think it's given our students in the consistency of that menu, the opportunity to be able to make life-long healthy choices.

Jennifer Hardwick – Principal East Hills Girls Technical High School

So their learning choices, their physical activity choices, their eating choices are all connected. They're well educated about that.

Cathryne Boviatsis – Student East Hills Girls Technical High School

I think the healthy school canteen has provided us with a lot of knowledge about how nutrition is important, balancing a healthy diet, portion sizes and things like that. And I think this school canteen's really helped with that as well.

Jennifer Hardwick – Principal East Hills Girls Technical High School

If you can collaborate with another school, in terms of working together and making sure that you are providing for a community, because it enhances our relationship with our parents, with other schools, with our staff.

It has been an absolute success.

Westfields Sports High School

ROGER DAVID – PRINCIPAL: We want to enable students to reach their potential, we make sure that they have skills, that they have the technique and of course the right nutrition to enable them to be the best that they possibly can be.

Every year we produce about 25 students who get selected in Australian sporting teams and anywhere between 85 and a hundred students that get selected into NSW state sporting teams.

We know how important nutrition is for every single student but for our sporting students it’s even more important.

HEATHER CLARKE – HEAD TEACHER, HOME ECONOMICS: I think it’s critical in any high school, let alone sports high school. Food is one of our essentials of life, without food we don’t survive.

ROGER DAVID – PRINCIPAL: That focus on nutrition is absolutely vital, especially for our students in terms of the endurance athletes - making sure that they have the right load of carbohydrates, for our strength type athletes – that they have the protein that they need so we want to make sure they know and understand how important healthy eating is and that will help them transition from school to the elite sports level.

TREVOR MORGAN – COACH/MENTOR: To reach the very elite in the world or the elite in your sport, you’re looking for those marginal gains, those tiny gains and nutrition, the impact that it has on obviously your weight but your sleep patterns, how good your recovery is, the type of food, is it suiting the type of training you are doing,

So I think there’s a lot of education that can go on there and I think they need to experience it.

CARRISA UNO – STUDENT – CRICKET: After a game it’s really important to recover the body and if you’re eating the wrong food [by that] you’re not really doing yourself any good.

SAMUEL SILVERA – STUDENT – SOCCER: On game day I will focus on my meals, have a lot of chicken.

HANNAH DARLINGTON – STUDENT – GYMNASTICS: They encourage us to like eat foods that help improve performance at certain times because it’s quite like vigorous, the training.

ROGER DAVID – PRINCIPAL: The students love the new canteen that we’re running here and we’re very happy that it is a Healthy Canteen and that all the options are healthy options.

ANGELIQUE HRISTIDOULOU – STUDENT – SOCCER: We have a lot more whole foods like pastas, wraps, sandwiches so it really caters for the athletes here to provide them with the necessary nutrition that they need.

ROGER DAVID – PRINCIPAL: We want them to learn and understand right from a young age what role nutrition plays in helping them to be the best that they can be.

ANGELIQUE HRISTIDOULOU – STUDENT – SOCCER: I like to be as healthy as can because I know that ultimately it affects my performance and how well I play so I try to maintain healthy eating habits.

Grays Point Public School

NARELLE, PRINCIPAL: We have a wonderful school canteen at Grays Point Public School. It's essentially the hub if you like of all the things we do.

Everything in our school is all about the children and what happens in our canteen really reflects that.

NICOLE, CANTEEN MANAGER: I've been in the canteen for about six years now and I've seen the menu changed quite a lot over those years.

When I first started a lot of the food was processed and frozen and we made virtually nothing on-premises. Now everything is made from scratch.

The transition from the old menu to the new menu is quite easy because I've got a really good coordinator.

JUSTINE, P&C: I think it was an incremental approach. We started with a survey out to the parents to see what they knew about the new strategy, what they were nervous about, what they liked about our canteen currently, what they felt needed changing … then I think it was very easy to implement the changes of the Strategy because everyone felt they had some ownership of it.

NICOLE, CANTEEN MANAGER: The feedback we've had from the parents has been very positive, especially the ones that know that their kids are getting healthy food made on premises.

SALLY, PARENT: We try our best to do the healthy lunches every day but it's nice to know that you can get some healthy food from the canteen on those days when you order.

CATHERINE, PARENT: Knowing that you've got healthy choices at the canteen, it just helps our parents so much.

ELLIE, STUDENT: I get lunch there about two times a week.

JESSIE, STUDENT: My favourite food is the garlic bread.

HARVEY, STUDENT: Chicken wrap with lettuce and cucumber is really good.

JUSTINE, P&C: A number of different things have been added. We have Crunch and Sip so that if parents are rushing and don't have a chance to do the fruit break for them they can get fruit and water from us.

We have vegetable sticks with hummus, yogurt with fruit on the top or yogurt with muesli.

A lot of vegetables are incorporated into recipes that the kids don't even know.

We have tried some things and they have not been successful and we've sort of you know sort of thought, “Oh okay well it's not for them.”

DEBRA, CANTEEN MANAGER: My advice for other canteens is to take it slowly, don't jump in all at once and try and change everything at once. Ask the children, ask the parents, put out a survey …

NARELLE, PRINCIPAL: Moving forward now, this has just been the beginning of our journey. I'll be really interested to see over the next couple of years just how much we've changed the eating habits of children in our school.

Marrickville Public School

Samuel Dass, student: Most schools have the unhealthy stuff like slushies, burgers, hot chips. The good thing about Rules canteen is that it's really healthy and it's still delicious.

Kerry Chambers, principal: The healthy campaign strategy was a perfect fit for our community. It actually reinforces what we teach the kids about healthy living and healthy eating.

Jackie Kuek, parent: The advantages of having a healthy school campaign is peace of mind, really. I don't have to worry that he's going to buy something that doesn't take all the boxes.

Camille Dass, student: Lots of children like this canteen and Wil sells lots of healthy food.

Wil Angus, canteen manager: I've been running the canteen here, now for six years. I prepare all the food here from scratch, with very little processed ingredients and next to nothing bought in from an external supply.

Samuel: The specials are really nice and they're different each day.

Irie Beall, student: Pasta and sushi and meatballs and stuff like that.

Camille: Beef, pasta, mac and cheese, and sushi.

Odessa Beall: My favorite item is frozen yogurts because they're really nice.

[00:01:26] Male participant: Food could always be fun. It can be as simple as putting a stick in it and freezing it, cutting it into amusing shapes.

Caesar Alcock, student: Yes, I love Apple slinky's, it's like when Wil puts an apple into a little machine and it peels all the skin off and turns it into toy slinky.

Wil: What can be good for them, can also taste good can be interesting, enjoyable, a talking point.

Ruby Turner-Carroll, student: My favorite healthy food there is the oranges because it's super yummy and they're also frozen. I even like the frozen water melons.

Samuel: Actually, I've never had junk food at the canteen.

Wil: It's not hard to do this. I've never done a canteen any other way, so I couldn't envisage serving processed food. I just make it all myself. As long as you've got some space and refrigeration and a couple of ways of making stuff hot, you can do it.

Jackie: You can really see the dedication that the school takes towards putting together a menu and something that is really going to benefit our children.

Kerry: Not just the physical change in children and how they can improve themselves, but it also impacts on their learning as well. They're eating healthy, they feel healthy, they feel happier, they learn more.

Wil: If I can do it, anybody can.

Hebersham Public School

AMANDA: My name's Amanda Campbell. I have twins girls they're in Year 4 at Hebersham Public School.

TEEGAN: My name's Teegan.

TENILLE: And my name's Tenille.

AMANDA: In the past it has been a challenge to have my daughters eat healthy and fresh. They want nuggets and chips.

OLIVIA: The trouble that we're facing is that there's so many unhealthy options for children these days.

So at Hebersham Public School we have a four-pronged strategy, helping students understand that food doesn't come from a package.

We have a cooking teacher, we have our gardening program, we have Crunch & Sip, and we also have a healthy school canteen.

MELISSA: A lot of students don't know where fruit and vegetables come from. Anything that looks green gets a nervous reaction.

TEEGAN: We've been learning to grow, what time to water plants.

TENILLE: And how long they take before we can harvest them.

MELISSA: Each week they come for half an hour to do various things from planting seeds to watering.

TEEGAN: We've got lettuce.


TENILLE: Pumpkins, spring onion.

TEEGAN: And mint.

OLIVIA: Crunch & Sip occurs daily in the classrooms. The students bring in fresh fruit and vegetables, so things that are not in a package. And their option for drinking is water.

For those students that don't have Crunch & Sip, we're using the rent from the canteen to purchase the fresh fruit and vegetables to be available in the office.

Not only are we promoting it in the classroom, we want the students to able to go and buy healthy food options at the canteen.

AMANDA: This year the canteen is a hundred percent healthier. They get meal deals so a bottle of water, a piece of fruit, and a salad wrap.

STUDENT: It keeps you hydrated and healthy.

OLIVIA: And the staff are actually enjoying those healthy items as well.

AMANDA: The kitchen program is the best thing that my girls have been involved in.

MELISSA: They'll come in for an hour and a half, and it's always based around on what's been growing in the garden.

So we make quiches and curries.

TENILLE: Gnocchi.

TEEGAN: Salads and some pestos.

MELISSA: They just eat so many things that they'd never try.

AMANDA: It's made a difference in what they wanna eat at home as well.

TEEGAN: Yeah 'cause, she normally know us as like, Mum can we have takeaway and like, oh Mum can we have some risotto? She was a bit shocked when she heard us say it.

AMANDA: Stuff that I never thought I would get them to eat.

TEEGAN: My favourite food is now quiches and gnocchis that are fresh, that are homemade.

AMANDA: They can make a simple meal, at home on their own. Always healthy. I would have loved to have a program like this when I was at school.

STUDENT: It's always a good time to eat fruit, so your brain doesn't get empty when you start working.

OLIVIA: It's really nice to see food that hasn't come in a package, that you think, oh what is that.

MICHELLE: I think it's important to start the children off knowing that they can make these right food choices from an early age. They've got to be able to make these choices for life.

Canobolas Rural Technology High School

ANDREW: Orange is renowned for its food industry. It’s traditionally quite a rural farming area.

I'm Andrew Farley, I did my apprenticeship and later became the sous chef of a fine dining restaurant here in town.

Even though Orange is renowned for its food, we are in a predicament where canteens, in particular, are still selling the traditionally unhealthy, processed foods.

GEOFF: The canteen here was a fairly traditional school canteen. Meat pies, sausage rolls.

KATE: The old canteen was certainly not making money. The P&C decided to look for another manager of the school canteen.

ANDREW: I was looking around for a bit of a change of pace, and heard about a job offering here at the school.

KATE: And when we got the ideas for the new menu from Andrew, there was no choice but to employ him.

ANDREW: I thought it was going to be a pretty cruisy job, I was very wrong with that assumption.

Trying to cook for 400 odd students, day one, with no experience in a canteen situation was quite a challenge.

I made the decision then that I wasn't going to try and phase in a lot of food, I was just gonna come in and completely bring in my own menu, pushing it towards an urban cafe feel, getting students and teachers involved and breaking down the barrier between the two.

The biggest changes I've made to the menu, are taking away a lot of the sausage rolls and pies, and bringing in healthier alternatives, focusing more on whole ingredients as opposed to processed foods, making a lot of fresh stuff ourselves.

I really do look for local produce where I can. Fruit, fresh every week from a local orchard.

One of the first weeks I was here, I was told that I would never sell any fruit at all, and I couldn't even give it away.

And, later that week I had actually sold over 20 kilos of fruit, in the form of our fruit cups, which was a really proud moment for me, to be able to come in and prove that to be wrong.

[School bell]

ANDREW: Lunchtime rush is quite hectic.

GEOFF: There was a little bit of resistance because kids were seeing foods that they weren't familiar with.

ANDREW: One day this student who always got a sausage roll, seemed quite devastated in the fact that he couldn't get a sausage roll, so I suggested to him to try the pasta, and he came back the next day, raving about how great this pasta was and he now buys the pasta every single day.

KATE: He opens up options for them to try new foods. He not only changed the food menu, but also the pricing structures, so the cheaper options are the healthiest options.

STUDENT:  Yeah, it's definitely been a change for the better, like heaps more kids now buy their lunch.

KATE: Financially, Andrew's made a massive profit in the first 12 months.

ANDREW: We've doubled the sales of the previous canteen. Well, we're seeing a huge increase in the sale of healthy options.

KATE: I know that a lot of schools are very hesitant to make changes, and I would agree that I was dubious to start with, that the kids would embrace it, but they absolutely do, and they love it.

GEOFF: You can't underestimate the choices kids will make, if presented with healthy options.

ANDREW: I do get a great sense of satisfaction, and being able to see a change that's been made to these kids' lives, through food, and through providing a really positive atmosphere here at the canteen.

Blackheath Public School

JODY: Blackheath is a little town set on an escarpment of the Blue Mountains. It's quite a vibrant community because it's still quite a small community. That's the beautiful thing about Blackheath.

JANE: We had a canteen, running very successfully. Then, just last year, a situation arose where the canteen was no longer financially viable. The canteen had to be closed for term. That was a huge gap in our school.

JODY: It was quite an impassioned fight to get the canteen back and running. We are actually running the canteen now as a business. The P&C I guess is the employer of the canteen managers, and so the canteen has to be a sustainable business model.

JANE: One of the issues with school canteens is it's so hard to get volunteers.

SAM: We really had to try and nurture a really positive volunteer culture base.

CHRISTINE: So we just said to everybody, if you've got 20 minutes up your sleeve, or if you've got the whole day, just pop in, and we'll always find you something to do.

DEREK: I'm a local builder. I take Friday mornings off to do the volunteering. You can drop in for as long or as little as you want. It's good fun. A lot of the parents get in there a little bit earlier just so we can catch up.

JANE: My own opinion about school canteens is we have a captive market, so we have a responsibility to serve them healthy food.

JODY: We work on the principle that if we wouldn't eat it, we're not gonna serve it.

CHRISTINE: There's not a lot of food that we actually buy in. It's more stuff that we actually make every day.

We've got a beautiful community garden in our own back yard in the school premises.

STUDENT: We grow snow peas, broad beans, zucchini, tomato. We harvest a lot for the canteen, so that goes into our lunch orders.

JODY: The beautiful thing is we've got parents who come in and go, "I've got this recipe, do you wanna try it?"

So we came up with an idea for a cookbook with recipes from parents. And it'll be a fundraiser towards the canteen.

CHRISTINE: We run a cultural week two days a week.

JANE: Vietnamese food, Chinese food, Korean food.

ADRIAN: We've got a wonderful canteen downstairs. What we really like is every week, we get a different country and a different feature and a different menu.

JODY: We've had requests for South American food, and some child did suggest food from the Antarctic, but we haven't actually worked that one out yet… Gelato!

STUDENT: I think that they make really good food, and they're really healthy. It's important to eat healthy food because it gives you much more energy and it makes you have a longer life.

ADRIAN: A well-fed kid makes for a more settled kid in the class.

JODY: Each week, parents pay $25 and then they have a veggie box delivered to the school so they can pick it up. Out of that $25, five dollars goes back to the P&C.

CHRISTINE: This year we have made a profit.

JODY: So the canteen is actually sustainable.

One of the big reasons why the canteen works is we have passionate people involved.

CHRISTINE: Well done, team.

JANE: The canteen is like a kitchen is at home. It's the heart of the school, and it brings everyone together.

Just like the kitchen at home, it radiates out to the rest of the school with its warmth. It's like a big family.

Healthy School Canteens:
What Teachers Say

Healthy School Canteens:
Our Students Deserve the Best

Healthy School Canteens:
Fresh is Best

Healthy School Canteens:
Traditional Thinking

Healthy School Canteens:
Keeping it Fun

Healthy School Canteens:
What Kids Say

Healthy School Canteens:
Hunter River High School

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